Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 96   |   6 October 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 1089

Estimate: 12'500 CHF   |   Starting price: 10'000 CHF Price realized: 11'000 CHF
Greek Coins
Ionia, Clazomenae. Tetradrachm circa 380-360, AR 15.20 g.
Description Laureate head of Apollo facing slightly to l. Rev. KLAZOM – [ENAIO]N Swan standing l., preening its wing; beneath, HR – [AKLEIDHS]. References
BMC 18
Boston 1852 (this obverse die)
Hurter, SNR 45, 1966, 12 (this coin)
Prospero 508 (this coin) Condition
Extremely rare and among the finest specimens in private hands. Of superb Classical style, reverse surface somewhat porous, otherwise very fine Provenance
Leu sale 33, 1983, lot 378
NAC sale 1, 1989,198
Peus sale 329, 1990, 194
New York Sale XXVII, 2012, Prospero collection, 508
CNG sale 100, 2015, 1451
From the Vourla (Urla) Hoard 1964 (IGCH 1210)
Clazomenae produced some of the finest facing-head portraits in all Greek coinage, with most of them being unsigned masterpieces. However, one artist, Theodotos must have been renowned in his day, for he boldly signed his work "Theodotos made it". Erhart notes that this kind of declaratory signature has few parallels in Greek coinage, perhaps only at Cydonia on Crete and at Thurium in Lucania. Apollo, who here is so perfectly represented, was the principal god of Clazomenae. With a work of such mastery one is obliged to find the source of its inspiration, and it has been recognized that it closely resembles the facing Apollo heads of Amphipolis. Even so, the possible influence – direct or indirect – of Kimon's Arethusa and the Helios portraits of Rhodes cannot be dismissed. In the tradition of so many Greek cities, the swan on this coin is a canting type based on the city name. The importance of these majestic birds appears to have been two-fold at Clazomenae: not only was this bird sacred to Apollo, but it may well be that the city name was derived from the verb klazein, which, among other things, was used to describe the whirr of a bird's wings, or the screech or cry of their calls. The careful, naturalistic studies of swans at Clazomenae find no equal in Greek coinage. Sometime the bird is shown with wings open as it cranes its neck over its shoulders to look back or, perhaps, to tend to its feathers.

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